The Making of "100 Days to the Pick"

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Absolutely not.

That was the reply when we initially asked if we could follow Titans general manager Ruston Webster during the draft process in 2013 for a documentary-style edition of Titans All Access. 

By 2014, the answer had softened to a simple "no" due to the fact that with the 11th overall pick, the Titans could be picking from 10-15 players (or maybe more). Frankly, we didn't argue — the storyline would have been way too broad, too confusing to fit into 30 minutes.  

This year, it was time to go back to the well.

With the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, it made sense all the way around. This was a huge pick for the Tennessee Titans and for Titans fans. Ruston Webster saw the point and agreed to let us follow him. We would undertake the project by shooting and interviewing Ruston around the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. If we weren't too much of a pain in Mobile and Indianapolis, we would be allowed to complete the project.

Titans senior director of media relations Robbie Bohren was the key link in getting the process off the ground. Ruston would need to be interviewed anywhere from 8-12 times during this process, so Robbie had to set that up. He also had to make members of the staff aware of what we were doing. Football people in the NFL keep secrets better than CIA agents, so having unfamiliar faces with cameras around at every turn would be startling. Robbie coordinated and communicated with members of the Titans coaching and personnel staffs, informing them of what was happening and convincing them that these folks — people that they didn't really know — could be trusted.

Ashley Farrell and Jeff Harding would be charged with shooting the material. Since Ashley and Jeff were already assigned to shoot the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, it only made sense. Plus, they office at Saint Thomas Sports Park, so both would be in position to find a location to shoot an interview with Ruston at the drop of a hat. Amie Wells volunteered her time to be part of their crew, adding another important resource. And even though he is "the boss" of this group, Gary Glenn did the same.

A second part of the team would join later and would be just as important. Their story coming up. 

In a past life, I worked on several of this type of projects. There is one key: cooperation. Cooperation among your team. Cooperation from your subjects. Cooperation from people that you encounter throughout the process. You simply cannot predict how the twists and turns will go. You say a prayer, hold your breath and let it rip.

And that's what we did for 100 days.

We began in Mobile, Alabama on January 18, exactly 100 days before the draft. We would finish the night of April 30, with the crazy idea of concluding our production in the hours after the first pick so that the show would be ready for air in Nashville that weekend. The show had to be finished and delivered by 10:30 a.m. on Friday, May 1. That meant that the first 85 percent had to be completed prior to April 30. The other 15 percent would be determined by what happened with the Titans on draft day.

In other words, lots could go wrong at many different points in the process. It might have ended up being a disaster.

But it did not.

Ruston, the personnel staff and the coaching staff were great to deal with, letting our cameras into places where we never thought that they might go. As you might have guessed, they gave us the go-ahead to finish after the Combine!

We got to be in draft meetings, in NFL Combine interview rooms, with the staff at on-campus workouts, with the players' on-site visits in Nashville and in the Titans draft room itself. Ruston allowed us a total of 10 separate interviews, where he candidly gave thoughts to our camera on a variety of subjects. On the morning of the first round, he shared the team's plan and then let us see up-close how it would play out that night.

As a fan of the NFL, it was amazing to watch the detail that goes into this process by the group of men and women who all have important roles on draft team. Our crew was able to witness the shift towards taking Marcus Mariota at #2 overall, a shift that became very obvious with the events of the week of March 9.

On January 18, it seemed as if the Titans would go defense with the second pick or might even trade the selection, but by the night of April 30, Ruston Webster had his wish: everyone in the Titans camp was on-board with Mariota.

For us, the final days of the process were just as hair-raising as they were for Ruston and his crew. For a 30-minute show, our content could only total 22 minutes. This would involve the aforementioned "second part of our team."

The first script that I handed to TAA producer Brian Seeliger totaled that much time with THREE WEEKS LEFT in the process! Brian has an amazing team of editors in Mariel Hamm and John Greer and a graphics guru in Steve Gumm would work to help us pair it down. And Brian brought in "the closer," Donnie VanCleave, to work to have the reduced version make sense. Seeliger and all of his folks did a masterful job, especially on the night of April 30.

We interviewed Ruston at 10:30 p.m. (roughly three hour after Mariota was selected) and sent the video to Brian and his team. They worked on it all night, delivering it by the 10:30 a.m. deadline so that it could be closed-captioned for air that weekend.

The last 20-plus days have proven what we thought back in January when we pitched the idea to Ruston Webster: the Titans selection at #2 overall was very important to Titans fans. That feeling is what made this project so important to the people who worked on it. And to see how excited Titans fans are about Marcus Mariota, well, it validates the effort.

It is great to see Titans fans so fired up again.

Watching how it all happened was very special for all of us.

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